Secularist group targets decades-long tradition of laying wreaths on soldiers' tombs

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A secularist non-profit organization that strongly urges separation of church and state in America is taking issue with Wreaths Across America’s nearly 30-year tradition of placing wreaths on thousands of military graves.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is calling out Wreaths Across America, telling the Colorado Springs Gazette that the organization’s actions in placing wreaths on military gravesites around the country are “unconstitutional, an atrocity and a disgrace.”

Wreaths lay at the foot of headstones in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, December 14, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia.
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“We have no problem if people reach out and want a wreath on their deceased veterans’ graves, but to put them everywhere, to blanket them without permission of the surviving families is unconstitutional, an atrocity and a disgrace,” MRFF Founder Mikey Weinstein said, according to the Gazette.

MRFF Senior Research Director Chris Rodda described the tradition of wreath-laying as the “desecration of non-Christians veterans’ graves” in a November opinion piece.

“The gravesites of Christians and non-Christians alike will be adorned with this hijacked-from-paganism symbol of Christianity — circular and made of evergreen to symbolize everlasting life through Jesus Christ — whether the families of the deceased veterans like it or not,” Rodda wrote.

Wreaths lay covered in snow next to markers at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, January 6, 2015, after a small winter storm.
(Photo by Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Rodda also claimed that Wreaths Across America “enlists the help of volunteers across the country to lay a wreath on every veteran’s grave, forcing the non-Christian dead who didn’t celebrate Christmas in life to celebrate it in death.”

Weinstein, who is Jewish, concluded in his conversation with the Gazette that the process of laying wreaths should “be an aspect of respect,” adding that it is “almost like a fundamentalist Christian gang sign to put a symbol of the Christian season of Christmas on any grave.”

Each December since 1992, Wreaths Across America has committed to laying wreaths at Arlington National Ceremony to honor and remember fallen veterans – an effort that expanded in 2007.

A wreath stands at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as part of Wreaths Across America, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Last year, amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the wreath-laying event went digital in some locations over health and safety concerns.

According to Wreaths Across America’s website, this year’s observance is slated to take place on December 18 and will feature “wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 2,500 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad.”

Fox News reached out to Wreaths Across America, but did not receive an immediate response.

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